Impossible Foods raises $300 million as the meat-substitute company struggles to meet skyrocketing demand

Sarah Jacobs/Business InsiderImpossible Foods has teamed up with chains like White Castle to make plant-based burgers mainstream.
  • Impossible Foods announced a $US300 million Series E funding round on Monday.
  • The funding will primarily be used to increase Impossible Foods’ ability to keep up with demand, as the company has recently struggled with shortages.
  • Despite rival Beyond Meat’s explosive IPO, Impossible Foods CFO David Lee tells Business Insider that the company is not planning to go public at this point, allowing it to avoid being “distracted by how exciting the IPO market may or may not be.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Impossible Foods has raised another $US300 million in funding as the market for vegan meat substitutes heats up.

On Monday, Impossible Foods announced a $US300 million Series E funding round led by Temasek and Horizon Ventures. They were joined by more than a dozen individual investors with star status, including Jay-Z, Serena Williams, Alexis Ohanian, Katy Perry, and Jaden Smith.

“The principle use of this $US300 million is to increase our ability to serve this unprecedented demand we’re seeing,” David Lee, Impossible Foods’ chief financial officer, told Business Insider.

Impossible whopperBurger KingImpossible Whopper.

Impossible Foods menu items, such as its signature Impossible Burger, are sold at roughly 7,000 locations across the US. According to Lee, demand at individual locations is rapidly ramping up even as the company rolls items out to more locations. In April, Burger King announced plans to add the Impossible Whopper to menus nationwide by the end of 2019, putting Impossible Foods in 7,200 additional locations.

Impossible Foods has struggled to keep up with increased demand, with restaurants selling the Impossible Burger facing shortages in recent months.

“There is no question that this surge in demand has put pressure on our ability to meet it all. … We’re doing everything we can and we’re sparing no expense,” Lee said.

Read more:
A looming problem has plagued Beyond Meat for years. Here’s how the CEO says it plans to deal with demand as its rival Impossible Foods faces shortages.

According to Lee, Impossible Foods is adding another shift to its facility in Oakland, California – adding 50 new jobs – as well as partnering with co-manufacturers to help the company scale more quickly. The company has also identified multiple locations to build new production plants.

“I think what’s exciting is that the core consumer of the Impossible Burger 2.0 is the heart of the market – it’s that $US1.5 trillion meat-eater market, as over 90% of our consumers are self-avowed carnivores,” Lee said.

Impossible foods burger 0410Melia Robinson/Business InsiderImpossible Burger.

Impossible Foods sets itself apart from competitors with its use of heme, a sometimes controversial iron-rich nutrient that allows the plant-based offerings to imitate the taste and texture of meat. The company was founded in 2011 by Stanford biochemistry professor Patrick O. Brown and has since attracted high-profile investors including Bill Gates, Google Ventures, and Khosla Ventures.

Impossible Foods’ most well-known rival is Beyond Meat, which also attempts to win over meat-eaters with its plant-based burgers and other proteins. Beyond Meat had an explosive public debut in early May, with shares soaring 163% on its first day of trading.

Read more:
Beyond Meat CEO reveals his plan to persuade meat eaters to eat vegan substitutes following the company’s explosive IPO

Lee says that Impossible Foods is looking at every strategic option to achieve its “immense and global” mission, noting that many members of the management team have come from large public companies. For example, Dennis Woodside, who joined the company as its first president in March, helped take Dropbox public in 2018 as the company’s chief operating officer.

“However, we’re not announcing an IPO today,” Lee said.

“We’re very much focused on our execution and we’re excited that we’ve raised this $US300 million round from our existing private investors,” Lee continued. “That allows us to continue on executing without being distracted by how exciting the IPO market may or may not be.”

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